Bows and Roses


sf_asami_icon.gif sf_faulkner_icon.gif sf_jac_icon.gif sf_kaylee_icon.gif sf_lynette_icon.gif sf_nicole_icon.gif sf_nova_icon.gif sf_shaw_icon.gif sf_yi-min_icon.gif

Scene Title Bows and Roses
Synopsis A benefit concert brings together many of New York's finest.
Date September 12, 2020

The Juilliard School

The last reverberating chords of the violin and cello have faded, and the audience has filed out of the performance hall and to the lobby for the after-concert party. The opening night of the Juilliard School’s 2020-2021 season and the Fall Benefit Concert Series has been a success by most people’s accounts. The packed house raised money for the school’s programs and highlighted the talents of students and members of New York’s professional musical community alike. At the moment, neither of the two featured performers are anywhere to be seen, but it takes time for the musicians to pack up their instruments and maybe tidy up before facing their public.

In the lobby, servers with champagne and light hors d'oeuvres mill among the guests. As a backdrop, recorded music plays — a lighter, less intrusive or impassioned variety than the duets Lynette Rowan and Nova Leverett just finished performing. It’s the sort of music that helps to fill in the hollow spaces of a conversation but not distract from one. Unlike the Saint-Saens or the Halvorsen-Handel pieces, it’s music meant to be ignored.

The Linderman Group has always supported the arts, so it’s only natural to see one of its most recognizable faces among the concert-goers. Nicole Miller almost never passes up a chance to see and be seen at a charitable function such as this one. It helps, of course, that she genuinely enjoys such performances. She may have been spotted dabbing her eyes with a handkerchief during the Saint-Saëns piece. Good luck proving it, however. Her make-up is flawless, a purple smokey eye that matches the shade of her dress.

The dress is a much less simple thing consisting of strapless aubergine sheath overlaid with intricate lace, and cape draped over her shoulders. The material of it is smooth, it flows as effortlessly as water in a stream. Unadorned except at the shoulders, where more lace accentuates, ties it together with the sheath.

With a glass of champagne held in one hand, she weaves her way through those gathered, unhurried, but as if with more purpose than simple observation of the Who’s Who. Her free hand alights on an elbow or shoulder here and there. A hello and a marvelous to see you for each of New York’s wealthy and influential, but ever moving on. Can’t stay and chat just yet, you see, she’s on her way somewhere else.

Somewhere that doesn’t result in conversation with stuffed shirts whose inspidiness hurts her ears.

Senator Isaac Faulkner is in fine spirits. He's wearing a finely cut black jacket and pants, a dark grey shirt, and a midnight blue tie; he's got a half-full glass of champagne in his left hand and a politician's smile (subtype: Approachable and Charming) on his face. Tonight, after all, is as much an opportunity as any such social occasion for glad-handing and networking, and whatever else he might feel about Nicole Miller, she is an excellent teacher of that particular art.

He has other reasons for being in high spirits, of course, but that doesn't mean he's going to sit this one out. Not when there's a veritable smorgasbord of New York's upper crust on hand. Sure, Nicole's at work, too, but he doesn't plan to let her handle all the social lifting.

It shouldn't surprise Asami Tetsuzan to find her employers at a high-society event like this, but her brows tic upward in a subtle gesture of surprise once she turns away from the bar with a drink in hand. For a moment she lingers there, eyes roaming to see if this is a scene she'd be better off blending into the background on, but ultimately she steps away to let the next person up to the bar.

At least she had changed course, wielding champagne herself after all instead of something heavier. She keeps to the fringes of the millers and gatherers, listening and sipping idly from her glass. The dark blue shawl worn around the shoulders of her blazer is adjusted, and she thinks to herself she's glad she didn't dress in brighter colors.

There’s a light pattering of applause at one end of the lobby area as the musicians enter — first the small chamber orchestra of Juilliard students, and then the two soloists Lynette and Nova. The applause crescendoes for the two soloists, though stays in the realm of polite golf-style clapping more fit for the reception. After all, they received their large ovations inside the performance hall.

While dressed in the traditional black (she had recently lamented to Isaac about the “uniform” of the symphony), Nova is dressed to stand out as a soloist in a ball gown, the top, a fitted halter, and the bottom, black tulle that allows for modesty when playing. Her blue eyes are bright as she scans the crowd and she gives a longing glance to one of the waiters carrying champagne. She’s still a few months from being able to legally drink that in public.

“I have a hate-love relationship with this part,” she asides under her breath to the violinist as she reaches for the other woman’s shoulder to pose for a photo. “Does it ever get better? Playing’s the easy part.”

Lynette is in black as well, but her dress leans toward column rather than ball gown. She could get away with wearing something less uniform, but she's dressed for solidarity with her fellow soloist. She smiles at the crowd, giving a playful curtsy for the applause before they have to pose for a few pictures. She, too, looks longingly at the alcohol, but seems to decide it's best to be clear headed in this moment.

"No, this part is always stressful," she says through a smile for the camera. "One hour, then you can slip away without anyone thinking too much of it. I'll show you who to avoid," she adds, dryly.

Once the pictures are taken, she guides Nova toward the mingling, guide and guardian for the evening. At least at the beginning.

There to greet them as they enter the fray is Kaylee Petrelli, one of the many donors to the school. She offers both a strained smile, enjoying this part of high society about as much as they do. In fact, after a few polite hello’s she’ll probably find her way out. “Ladies,” she offers them both a respectful incline of her head to the pair. “I won’t keep you from your fans, but I wanted to tell you it was a fine performance tonight.”

The Petrelli heiress didn’t bother with a dress for the night… instead dressed in a rather stylish tux, with her long golden curls pulled back into a ponytail. The suit, itself, fit her form perfectly, keeping it from looking too masculine with the cumberbun, leather banded watch, neatly folded pocket square.

The only things truly bold about her whole being are the lipstick red gloves and stilettos she wears partially hidden under the hem of her slacks. Kaylee had to look the part of a rich heiress, of course.

Kaylee motions to Nova in particular. “You, Miss Leverett, you have quite a way with the cello. I hope we’ll see more performances from you in the future?” The mother of two often brought her children to performances like this to expose them to some culture, which means when she turns to the older woman there is a bit more familiarity. “And Lynette, of course, a beautiful performance as always.”

Compared to most of the present assembled company, Yi-Min Yeh isn't a particularly highbrow or important name. She isn't at all, in fact. Despite this, anybody who sees her might be easily forgiven for mistaking this to be the case — the tiny Taiwanese woman is unabashedly resplendent in the short, sharp flow of a blush-pink blouson dress, the relatively simple look polished off by long silver earrings resembling gracefully drooping lilies.

Resting heavily in her arms are two identical, handsomely-wrapped bouquets of red roses, clearly meant for Lynette and Nova, respectively.

"Yes, thank you both for such a mesmerizing performance. Here! For you," she murmurs cheerily as she draws right up to them in turn with her contribution once they appear to be (more) free, dark eyes twinkling over a more mellow smile. When she lifts out her hand to offer forth each rose bouquet, her sleeve unfurls in a sinuous fan of diaphanous fabric.

“Do you know how many hours of practice it takes to even get an audition here?” Jac Petrelli’s question comes from Asami’s elbow, where she's appeared after managing to escape her mom’s shadow. She's dressed to match. At least that's what she'd claimed hours before while getting dressed for the concert.

There's little about the fitted jacket and pants that actually coordinates with the fine tailored tux that Kaylee beyond the color. Maybe she's trying to make a subtle statement with the narrow striping of her shirt and the contrasting black and white polka dots of her tie. Or maybe she's simply being a teenager.

Jac angles a look up to Asami. Her eyebrows arch upward beneath shaggy curls of red, and her head tips toward the two musicians as they arrive. “I bet thousands of hours. Could you imagine just… all of that?” Far from disbelief, the girl sounds amazed and inspired by such a feat.

"Think about how many hundreds of hours you've put in practicing so far during our lessons," Asami replies offhandedly, her eyes not leaving the performers across the floor. "But it's not just the time. The level of dedication required is profound, yes, but so is the level of talent." She sips from her champagne before letting it settle over her abdomen, loosely clutched between both hands. In height, she stands only a few inches above Jac and far below many others here, but there's a confident, if demure air to her regardless. No fidgeting of legs clad in long sheathes of many-pleated fabric; her posture filled with poise.

The way she carries herself tonight is a different class of self-assured than she displays in the gym. This one is learned and practiced, for all that she appears aloof. This one is well-spoken instead of spontaneous.

"They say if you must do any one thing, do it well. These women chose their instruments." Finally, she turns to regard the teenager who's sidled near her. "What will you choose?"

The cellist bites her lower lip as she looks out among the crowd, a small smile tipping her mouth upward when she sees a particular face in the crowd. “Yes, please do. Last concert, I got stuck with some old guy who thought he was Hugh Hefner, I think,” Nova says, wrinkling her nose. “Never been so glad to wear long skirts in my life. Big donor, can’t offend, blah blah blah.”

This is all said under her breath as she turns to Kaylee’s approach and her smile widens for the familiar donor whose company she is happy to find herself in. “Thank you so much, Mrs. Petrelli,” she says warmly. “I hope so, too. Two more years to go, so I hope it’s not the last you’ve seen of me. I’ll be sure to send you a personal invitation to my senior recital, if I’m not featured again before then. We have so many talented musicians who deserve their moment in the limelight, of course. I’m lucky to have tonight, and with Lynette, no less.”

Nova squeezes Lynette’s arm, then smiles as she sees Yi-Min’s approach with the beautiful bouquets. “Oh, my, God, these are just so beautiful and I can smell them from here,” she says, accepting hers before bringing it up to inhale the heady aroma. “You are too kind.”

Nicole catches Faulkner’s eye from across the room and lifts her glass slightly in greeting. One corner of her mouth quirks up in the fashion that it always seems to when she’s silently commending him for his presentation. Very good, he can practically hear the accompanying praise in her voice in his head. He’s dressed the part and his mask for the evening is the right sort of affable.

But her scrutiny doesn’t linger. She isn’t intent on commanding his attention, after all. Instead, she follows the sound of applause to the entrance of the chamber musicians and the soloists. To their well-wishers. The little half-smirk both widens and softens. Nicole takes in a deep breath and thinks she can almost catch the scent of orchids in the air.

"Kaylee, it's so good to see you. You look amazing," Lynette says, reaching over to give her arm a warm squeeze, "and thank you. We'll see Nova on stage again, don't worry about that." She nods, though, at the notion that there are many talented students to feature. Still, she has her favorites. And isn't especially good at hiding which is which. But then, she doesn't have to be.

Her attention turns at the appearance of flowers and she chuckles lightly as she takes hers. "Thank you so much," she says to Yi-Min, "these are beautiful. I'm glad you enjoyed the performance." She doesn't seem to find it odd to have a bouquet to hold onto through the reception… practice helps with that, but also it gives her something to do with her hands, which is always nice.

Tonight, it's roses instead of orchids. But.

In response to Lynette and Nova, Yi-Min dips a deep curtsy as the second bouquet is taken from her, clearly very pleased by the reactions she is getting. "I hand-grow these roses myself," she notes casually, tossing out even more buoyantly after, "No, this is the least someone like me can do for getting to hear such music. The pleasure is all mine." Truly. Etc, etc.

And then as though right on cue, her gaze slides right onto Nicole's from afar, and she can't help but let her mellow smile grow just a little bit wider. Eyes coy with purpose, she coils her fingertips up into the air in a small but flirtatious wave. Seeing as how the other woman doesn't seem to be presently engaged in conversation with Senator Faulkner or anyone else, she also gives her head a casual tip towards the semicircle of people she is presently standing near, as though to say, 'over here.'

Jac gives Asami such a look to answer the question. Obviously they both know she's going to continue to practice; and likely even more now to meet some implied challenge. It'll never see her into the prestigious Juilliard school — her sister Brynn is the artist — but there's something just as fine and respected that she might attend, right?

The look lasts barely more than a couple of seconds before it follows the angle of the woman’s attention before it was interrupted. “Did you want to go meet them?” she asks, cautiously drawing on assumptions when she finds the musicians at the end of that look across the room.

She glances up to Asami to get a quick measure on the guess she's made. Not that the teenager doesn't entirely wait for an answer either way. “I'll introduce you,” she goes on, not that she even really knows Lynette or Nova. Her mom probably does and that's good enough. “Come on. It's why they're here.”

Faulkner's glance finds Nicole; he sees her raise her glass, sees that hint of a smile, and raises his own glass ever-so-slightly in a gesture of acknowledgement.

His gaze doesn't linger long, either, though. The stars have emerged to grace the party with their presence, and the gathering has shifted around them, orbits finding new foci. His gaze finds Nova, sees her looking at him, and for a moment his own smile becomes a hair more sincere.

He holds her gaze for a moment… but as her gaze moves back to Lynette, his own gaze moves on. They both have business to attend to tonight, and while she's being the belle of the ball, this is a rare moment where there aren't a lot of eyes on him; he takes advantage of it, biding for a moment to survey the party as a whole.

There are more than a few familiar faces in the crowd, but there's one that actually surprises him — Asami Tetsuzan, along with Jac Petrelli. Interesting, that. He hadn't expected Asami to be here… though it's hardly a bad thing for the Group's employees to have a reputation for being cultured.

Well. Point to Tetsuzan for good taste, but he has matters of his own to pursue tonight. If Jac is here, that means that most likely Mrs. Petrelli is, as well… and sure enough, there she is, near the center of things. He makes his way towards Kaylee, his usual smile returning to his face.

A lean man in a medium blue suit carrying a couple more flower bouquets winds his way through the milling crowd. Shahid Khan isn't moving without purpose, but he's also not rushed to get to any destination. Dark eyes study the faces, though, seeking a spot where the man can gain a better view of the soloist's entryway. Like the others, he turns and joins in the applause when the night's stars appear.

Shaw waits for the natural initial press of people to subside before making his way, navigating through and around until he pops out from the background like color sure to be seen. He adjusts his bow tie, then calls to teacher and fellow student with an extension of bouquets towards them in offering, "Miss Rowan, Miss Leverett. Wonderful performance, so moving." In a tiny bit of self-deprecation he adds, "I'll not hope to match that intonation for many years." He’s but a very recent beginner adult student of Lynette’s, but the man can appreciate the skill and talent, as others have.

“I look forward to it,” Kaylee says genuinely to the pair, with a bright smile. Noting people like Yi-min are gathering, she gives them both a mild look of pity for what they must endure. She knows all about it. “As I said, I won’t keep either of you. Fans wait for no one.” Kaylee should know. She gives a wink and steps back letting others crowd in to give congratulations and praise.

Maybe now Kaylee could quietly slip away. A quick discovery of Jac with her teacher gets a sad twist of jealousy, but… Kaylee only offers the pair a quiet smile, even if focus is on the musicians.

Turning to leave the small crowd, Kaylee quickly spots Isaac coming towards her. A quirked smile touches her lips as she moves to meet him part way. When she greets him, her tone is as bright as ever, “Senator Faulkner, I should have known that you would be here among the finest of New York.”

Asami's cultured air ripples with a shine of her normal self as she reaches for Jac's elbow to try and catch her back, but misses. She'd rather have kept to the shadows, no need to personally meet the performers, but alas, off they go. With a polite nod to a man whose path she crosses, the Japanese woman murmurs a pardon me and follows in the teenager's wake.

She's all poise again by the time they are close, and she waits politely for the latest gift to have been doted before stepping forward. "Ladies, thank you for the performance. Yours is a rare art these days, and you both are masterful at it. I'm sure you've heard it a hundred times over this evening, but I just wanted to give you my appreciation." Asami smiles warmly between the two before shifting a glance to Jac.

Let's not crowd them, she encourages with that light look.

Lynette’s words draw another wide smile and blush from Nova, who glances downward at the praise, taking another moment to look at the armful of roses, fingers brushing across one of the velvety petals. “They are very beautiful,” she reiterates, perhaps to take a little of the focus off of herself. “Are you a florist or botanist or is it a hobby?” she asks, and the tone of curiosity rings true; as a musician she has a respect for other people’s gifts and passions. “I have a black thumb, I think the saying goes. Maybe because of the calluses,” she quips, glancing over at Lynette to determine if that might have some truth to it.

“You aren’t keeping us,” she adds to Kaylee when the other woman makes her farewell, “but have a good night. Thank you again for coming. I’m honored to have such a distinguished audience.”

Watching the woman move away, Nova sees Isaac approaching and she smiles again at him, before turning to Shahid when he approaches. Her eyes widen at another bouquet, and she reaches for it, breathing in the scent of the flowers. “These are so beautiful. You play?”

Nicole’s attention stays too still on Yi-Min for a moment to be taken for anything other than captivated by her. She casts a glance around the room, almost as if to see if the wave was meant for someone else nearby, or just over her shoulder (she knows it isn’t). The choices presented to her are rubbing elbows with a wealthy donor that she graced with her presence last week, thank you, or making the requested approach.

It isn’t a difficult decision to make.

As she makes her way across the room, Nicole snatches a second flute of champagne from a passing tray with all the practiced grace of someone who does this for a living. When she arrives at the growing knot of admirers, she presents the glass to the florist. “Yi-Min,” Nicole greets warmly. “You looked parched, darling. This simply cannot stand.” She dips down to press a kiss to the shorter woman’s cheek with all the affection that’s shown by socialites who want everyone to know who stands among their inner circle. Asserting who has access to her considerable but exclusive sphere of influence.

“Ms Rowan. Miss Leverett.” That warmth is now turned to the soloists. “Your beautiful performances brought me to tears,” Nicole confesses, pressing her now-free hand to her chest to show how heartfelt this is meant to be. “I’m afraid I have no token to present to you beyond my admiration.” She cracks a broader smile then, gives a brief chuckle of laughter. “And, of course, a donation to the school.” This is a fundraiser after all, and among other things, Nicole is well-known for her generosity, both from her own pocketbook and the Linderman Group’s funds.

"Shahid, how lovely," Lynette says when she accepts his flowers as well. If this keeps up, she and Nova might have a decent excuse to slip away for a while, to stash all these flowers somewhere. "Thank you. And thank you for coming. Nova, this is Shahid, I've just started teaching him. Time and dedication, Shahid, that's all you need to grow as a musician." Words she's spoken more than once.

When Nicole approaches, Lynette returns her smile and chuckles at the comment. "It's probably better that way, Nova and I only have so many hands," she says, with a nod to just all the flowers. "We just appreciate everyone attending," she says, her gaze taking in the room at large. Even if she can be a little overwhelmed by the crowds, it doesn't lessen her appreciation for the support.

"Mrs. Petrelli," Faulkner says, meeting her bright tone with one of his own; it's not entirely feigned, either. Isaac's known the Petrellis since Linderman was still alive, and it's always good to see a familiar face. Hearing Senator in front of his name certainly doesn't hurt his mood, either. A touch of vanity, perhaps, but pride in one's self isn't a bad thing.

Not so long as he keeps it under control, that is.

"It's no surprise to see you here, either; how have you been? And how are your daughters faring?" he asks. It makes sense, of course, that Brynn wouldn't be here, but it never hurts to ask.

Nova offers a hand to Shahid; like any good cellist, her nails are clipped short but are perfectly manicured (with a silver polish the conductor tsked at), while her fingertips are calloused from years of playing her instrument several hours a day. “Lynette is an amazing teacher,” she says warmly. “I’m sure you will be playing some Bach or Pachelbel in no time.” Maybe not the Halvorsen just yet.

Nicole’s approach draws a smile from the cellist, and she laughs at Lynette’s reply. “True. I didn’t plan on needing my own caddy at a concert, but maybe I should have,” she quips. “Your presence is more than enough, and your donation very appreciated.”

Her blue-eyed gaze slides to Isaac where he speaks with Kaylee, then back to Nicole. “You work with the senator, yes? I’m sure I’ve seen your photo with him at some event.” From Googling Isaac recently. She offers a hand to shake Nicole’s. “He’s recently become a friend of mine.”

"Why, thank you. I am actually a florist by trade," Yi-Min answers Nova's query easily, laughing brightly at the comment about having a black thumb. "Well, we all have our talents, do we not? Mine may not be much to speak of in comparison with yours— not even in the least— but I enjoy it all the same." The remark does not seem at all disingenuous, despite the sly boldness in her posture. If nothing else, Yi-Min is a stubborn adherent to the Chinese custom of putting on a public face of modesty at all costs.

She answers Nicole's arrival with nothing less than blatant enchantment on her part, too, flashing a smile to her old friend as she gratefully accepts the shapely flute of champagne held out for her. Otherwise, she is content to remain quiet as she keeps an interested ear on the rest of the conversation taking place, adorning Nicole's side like a glittering, strangely keen-eyed ornament.

“The girls… are as headstrong and independent as ever,” Kaylee says with bland amusement, shifting to where she can see Jac with her teacher. “Growing far too fast, making me miss them when they were little and I was their world.” She gives a wistful sigh, before turning her focus on Issac.

Tucking a hand in his elbow, Kaylee draws him a short couple of steps away from the group and a small moment of privacy.

“I… however… am keeping busy and pleased to inform you that the plans for the foundation fundraiser are well underway,” Kaylee sounds rather pleased by that, though a mild glance is sent Nicole’s way, before she asks Issac softly, “I can count on you being there right? New York’s wealthy elites are not going to pay an exorbitant amount of money per ticket just for the privilege of my company alone.”

There is a mischievous smile on her lips as Kaylee adds, “You’re, of course, more than welcome to bring the pretty young cellist that has been glancing over here quite often.” Clearly, she sees all, “Bravo, my dear friend. She’s a delight. I approve.”

Isaac nods at Kaylee, though he doubts the Petrelli daughters share that particular sentiment; they probably can't wait to get grown and out on their own. He recalls, for a moment, his own teenaged years… he'd been impatient, too. Ambitious, cocksure, and impatient… a bad combination. But this is no place for distraction, and besides, he doubts the Petrelli daughters anywhere near as… whatever it was he'd been.

He gives Kaylee a wry look. "I think you're underselling yourself a bit there," he observes, "but you can rest assured, I intend to be there." At her mention of Nova, though, Isaac's eyes widen just a bit. He only just manages to check the impulse to look over and see if she's looking at him now… though the brightening of his smile, he can't quite hide. "She is," he agrees, voice full of quiet warmth. "And thank you. I appreciate that." He takes a moment to get his smile under control… then he glances over to Nova…

…who is speaking with Nicole at the moment.

Hm. He'll have to drop in on that. Soon. "I may just do that," Faulkner grins. "If she's game, of course." He's pretty sure what her answer to that will be, but it's best not to count chickens before they've hatched. It's when you start taking things for granted that you get unpleasantly surprised.

Nicole’s face lights up with surprise when Nova not only recognizes her as the senator’s assistant, but also admits that she’s a friend of his. “Is that so?” she asks, brows having hiked toward her hairline. “Well, it’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance, then.” Her expression softens, taking the offered hand and giving a delicate shake. Nova’s a musician, after all, not opposition in a boardroom. She can spare the vice grip.

“Nicole Miller,” she introduces herself. “I’m the senator’s campaign manager. We’re going to make him a congressman.” Of this, she is quite assured. So assured, she doesn’t bother to cast a look in Isaac’s direction. If the pair of them don’t already have his attention — at least peripherally — she’ll be surprised. And disappointed. “How did you two meet?”

A strand of wavy tawny hair falls into Nova’s eyes as she shakes her head at Yi-Min’s dismissal of her own talents. “But you make people so happy! Everyone loves flowers. They’re just the epitome of joy and beauty,” she says, then looks back to Nicole.

“He’ll make a wonderful congressman, I’m sure,” she says, casting another blue-eyed glance over at the man where he speaks with Kaylee, unaware that she’s the topic of that conversation just as he is the topic of her own. The question as to how they met draws a broader, brighter smile from the cellist.

“I was doing a bit of my rebellious street playing, over in Battery Park,” she murmurs in a playfully conspiratorial tone — given that she has a YouTube channel for her outdoor performances, it’s hardly a secret, though possibly one that Juilliard doesn’t exactly smile on. “So he came over to chat. I didn’t realize he was a senator until later on, so he managed to charm me without his title.”

“Mmm…” Kaylee comments softly, watching Nicole and Nova’s interaction from afar. “For now, I think she might need some rescuing from your keeper.” There is a small twitch of a smile, sliding her arm out of Issac’s again, freeing him to do so. “But I will keep you to your word and I’ll have Ayers send your people the details for the fundraiser.”

Shahid answers Nova with shake of her offered hand, a humble bobbing of his head, and somewhat goofy smile to Lynette's explanation of his musical education. "Yes. It started as therapy, turned into, well. I think I have Twinkle Twinkle Little Star down now, so it's all up to Paganini from here," says the man the younger of the performers, grin widening a touch. "We have a fantastic teacher." That being said, as others approaching to greet the ladies he releases Nova's hand (the better to hold more flowers with) and states something about going to practice before stepping back. A soft 'excuse me' for Yi-Min and Nicole, then Asami and Jac as he detaches from the gathering.

On his way back around, Shahid passes by the hushed conversationists of Kaylee and Isaac. A curious blink of dark eyes shifts in their direction as ears catch bits of the topics and more, the expression on Faulkner's face when the senator's attention moves back around to the cellist. He shares a smile. Because he knows that look. He also knows the faces, offering a short salutation as he slips by, "Senator. Miss Petrelli."

Nicole might grab Faulkner by the shoulders later and shake him for all that he’s worth. Or… maybe she won’t. She’s already considering how this might play out in the press. Not that anyone can tell any of that by her posture or the expression on her face. “Well that’s lovely,” she says, pressing a hand to her chest to indicate that she’s touched by the meet-cute. “Isaac and I are both very much patrons of the arts. And you are quite the artist. I’m not surprised you caught his eye.”

In the back of her mind, she’s counting down the moment to Faulkner’s arrival. She’s already starting to edge nearer to Yi-Min so she can make space for him. Three… Two… One…

"Yes, that's probably about right," Faulkner agrees, with a somewhat rueful smile. He takes a half step back as Kaylee's arm slips free, but offers a nod when she speaks about making sure that his people get the details. "Appreciated," he says. "Good to see you, Kaylee, as always," he says, with another flicker of a genuine smile…

…one which slides rapidly into another politician's smile (subtype: proud, pleased, busy) at the passing acknowledgement from Shahid. He adds a nod to it, as well, but Shahid's already slipping away so he doesn't have to make excuses to do the same, and he's already said his goodbyes to Kaylee.

So off he goes, slipping into the Isaac-sized gap Nicole has so thoughtfully created. "Nicole!" he says with an outwardly pleased smile. "Ms. Yeh," he acknowledges, with a slightly smaller smile — courteous, pleasant, but slightly reserved. "And Nova," he says warmly, his smile broad. "The performance tonight was delightful," he says, extending his hand.

Ignoring Asami’s protests, Jac leads a poised and practiced circuit through the crowd. She might be a bustle of energy, with a willfulness to match, but that doesn't stop her from practicing etiquette and culture when the atmosphere requires it.

“That's the senator, and Ms. Miller,” she points out, knowing it's fully unnecessary. Anyone who's anyone would recognize their faces no matter where they are. “And those are other people. Probably friends of friends.” But important enough to be at a benefit concert. Her head dips toward Shahid and Yi-Min.

A grin stretches across Jac’s face as she stops short of breaking into the circle of well wishes around the musicians. Her eyes tick up at Asami, then seek out Kaylee for acknowledgement. The girl might be stretching her wings more than her mom would like just yet, but she still hopes for approval sometimes.

“Notoriously tricky,” Nova says with a grin for Shaw’s repertoire, before turning back to Nicole. She’s about to respond when Faulkner does fall into place as Nicole predicted, and her smile turns a little sunnier at his arrival. She takes his hand, squeezing lightly, before reaching out to touch Lynette on the shoulder.

“Isaac, have you met Lynette Rowan? I couldn’t have done it without her. I mean, besides the fact that it’s a duet, so literally too,” she says with a grin. “I’m glad you enjoyed the performance. It wasn’t Rachmaninoff,” her grin tips into a smirk, “but hopefully it passed muster.”

Her blue eyes catch Jac approaching and stopping near, and she smiles at the teenager. “I love your outfit. I wanted to wear a pantsuit but my director said no,” she says, with a conspiratorial air to the redhead.

Faulkner squeezes back, his own smile brightening just a bit. "With flying colors, in my estimation," he says, in regards to her performance.

Ah, but business calls. Faulkner lets his hand linger in Nova's for just a moment longer, then slips his hand free. "I can't say that I have, though I know the name, of course," he says, falling back on that well honed politician's smile of his as he turns to face Lynette, extending a hand to her for a shake. "A pleasure to meet you, Ms. Rowan. I greatly enjoyed the recital."

“Thank you,” Jac replies to Nova with an easy grin. It's one that shifts toward scheming a second later, lasting just long enough for her to add, “Next time you should petition for pantsuits. Or just do it anyway in protest.”

With her hand still holding Asami’s arm, she gently tugs her teacher along as she steps closer. “I'm Jac Petrelli, Ms. Leverett, we've sort of met before.” By that she means she's been seen hovering around Kaylee during most of the after-concert functions. “This is my fencing instructor, Tetsuzan Asami. She wanted to meet you and Ms. Rowan, but…” The teen shrugs.

If Jac is looking for her mother’s approval it’s there, when she looks, a proud smile on the woman’s lips. Kaylee’s noticed her polite approach and introductions, a job well done really and her mother will tell her later at home.

For now, Kaylee disappears into the crowd in search of her aid; her bodyguard moving to follow her like the shadow he is.

Isaac’s praise draws a rosy hue to Nova’s cheeks, and the smile she bestows on him is a little sweeter and softer than that the rest of the public seems to get.

Her gaze returns back to Jac and she laughs. “Well, I did ask, but since I’m still a student, I need to follow their rules a little bit, at least ‘til I graduate. Hopefully my gown isn’t totally cliche and boring, despite being, you know, a dress. I’d love to wear something like your mother is wearing. Maybe they’ll let me for my senior recital. They do like things to be so classical around here, though.”

The brightness of a genuine smile at Nova, given in feedback to the statement about flowers making people happy, is about all the interest Yi-Min seems to have in engaging with the ongoing conversation. For all her glittering accouterments, for all of her finespun, yet vulgar display of wealth, this version of Yi-Min Yeh is just as bored by exchanges of sycophancy among the rich as those that might happen to live in other realities.

This kind of talk is for people like Nicole. Not for her.

And so, she touches Nicole's forearm briefly to murmur with a slyness that only the other woman can perceive, "Meet you behind the stairs when you are done." Don’t be too long, the gesture says without sound.

Then she is gone too, like the slip of a colorful petal into the wind.

Nicole’s gaze slides to the side to peer to Yi-Min out of the corner of her eye when she’s murmured to. Outwardly, she expresses annoyance in the way her glance darts away, mouth a taut line. But her fingertips trail down the other woman’s arm as she disengages herself, maintaining contact with her until she can’t any longer without being conspicuous. Yes, she will.

“Isaac,” Nicole greets the senator warmly. “You were keeping this one from me, I see,” she teases with a flash of a grin in Nova’s direction. She rests a hand on her protégé’s shoulder briefly. This all has the trappings of see me after class, Mr. Faulkner. Not that anyone beyond the two of them knows to read it that way. “But you’re both very in demand.” There’s a lift of her brows as if to challenge anyone to say otherwise. “So, I’ll leave you to it.” She takes a half step back, offering one last smile to the performers before she disengages entirely. “Lovely work again, ladies. Please enjoy the rest of your evening. Soak up all that praise. You’ve earned it.”

One last pat to Isaac’s shoulder and Nicole is slipping back into the crowd. Her gaze catches Asami’s for a moment and lingers until she finally turns away and starts winding along a circuitous path through the party that will eventually lead her back to Yi-Min.

Asami smiles cordially as she's held by the arm, her other hand curled back to herself with her champagne flute held loosely. "I hope to see that night, too, Miss Leverett. If what we heard tonight was beautiful, I can only imagine what the future holds. Perhaps we'll be so lucky that tradition will bow to talent, but I'm afraid I know a thing or two about that particular struggle."

Her conmiseración is brief but warm, and then she dips her head to Lynette. "The harmony you both struck was remarkable, but I enjoyed the solo you performed in the first piece very much. It was wonderful to see your soul on stage. I'll look forward to future performances of yours, Miss Rowan."

When one of the Linderman lynchpins makes her signal of acknowledgement to Asi before leaving, she replies by lifting her glass in a subtle, polite salute. Then she smiles at the one remaining, certain they both get acknowledged.

Well, looks like Nicole's got something to say. Tonight should be interesting… but this particular debate is one he thinks he's fairly well prepared for.

Ah, but here's another face from the business side of things; seems Asami's stepped up to greet the stars of the show as well. Faulkner smiles and offers a nod. "Ms. Tetsuzan," he says quietly. "Always a pleasure to see a familiar face." He gives her a small smile that nevertheless contains a measure of sincerity.

Asi’s praise is met with another beam of appreciation from the cellist. “Thank you. And I’ll do my part to break any glass ceilings I can.” Even in the arts, there are those ceilings that need broken. Even in 2020. “Have a lovely evening.”

She turns to give a quick hug to a pair of her classmates, also dressed in concert black, who inform her in not-so-quiet whispers where the after party for the chamber orchestra will be — after a requisite stop at Serendipity for dessert.

Lynette shakes hands, nodding her thanks to introductions and compliments alike. "It means so much to us that you enjoyed it," she says, her smile gracious and a little sheepish, as if the attention were embarrassing somehow. She turns a little toward Nova, her smile a little crooked, "Why don't you slip out. I can cover from here. There has to be something nice you could be doing with your time." They put in an appearance, after all. Shook hands. Took pictures. Accepted flowers. In Lynette's opinion, that's all the requirements checked off.

Plus, there are only so many nice Saturday nights out in one life. One must make the best of them.

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